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D5200 movies – sound number 1


The best ways to record sound with your Nikon D5200

There are two areas where photographers really struggle when they try to move into making videos. The first is understanding that, with moving pictures, they can use the movement of the camera to help tell the story – so they don’t need to fit everything into the frame from the start. The second is sound. Sound is completely irrelevant to stills photography. In most situations you can make as much noise as you like and it won’t effect the image. However, with movies, sound is more important that the picture. Just try watching a movie with poor images and an movie with poor sound. Your brain will cope with poor images, but the lack of quality sound makes the whole experience unbearable.

So, as we start to look at movie making with the D5200 in more detail, sound is the obvious place to start. We welcome Cheryl Howarth, who has just completed her degree in Music Technology and is a professional sound engineer for a video company. She will take us through the complexities of getting the best possible sound for your videos.

 Getting the sound right is a tough job for photographers

The place to start is with the Nikon D5200 itself. boosting the internal mic from mono on the D5100 to stereo on the D5200 is really only a small change. the mics are very close together and, more importantly, very close to the lens. This means that, even with a SWM lens, there is a good chance that the Mic will pic up the noise of the lens focussing and any other camera noise. The Mic also has a wide recording pattern which means that it will pick up any noise from anywhere, not just what you are trying to video. This may suggest that the internal Mic is useless, but it does produce good ambient sound and is fine if you are close to your subject in a quiet spot. We have recorded on the internal Mic before in the studio, and it is perfectly useable.

A rode Mic for a Nikon D5200If you want to record sound from a specific point, you will need a directional Mic. Rode make good ones. You can get a couple of types – ones designed for a DSLR and ones designed for more general use. The DSLR Mics will come with a hotshoe attachment and a short cable to fit into the camera. These will run off a battery and feed the sound directly into the camera. Others, like the Rode NTG2, are more flexible, as they can run into a seperate sound recorder or ( with the right cable) into the camera. The NTG2 is the sort of Mic you will see being used by professional video crews. Often with a ‘dead cat’ wind muff, they are placed on a boom and sit above the subjects head, just out of shot. Because it is a directional Mic, it doesn’t pick up much ambient sound and is very versatile. With the right cable, it can fit into your D5200.

Tascam DR05 for the Nikon D5200It could also fit into a digital sound recorder, like a Tascam. These are great if the action is away from the camera and there would be too much noise interference to use a directional Mic on or near the camera. You can place the recorder near to the subject, and use either the inbuilt Mics or a directional Mic to pick up the sound. These recorders produce superb quality sound. The only downside is that you are recording the images and the sound separately, which means that you will have to put them together in post.

Sennheiser radio micsIf you are working with the subject and he/she is too far away for a directional Mic, or is going to be moving around, or there are two subjects, then the best way to record them is with radio Mics. these fit on the clothing of the subject and connect to a transmitter. the receiver is connected either to a digital recorder, or the camera. These work really well because they are always with the subject/s and clearly record their sound. Of course, you have to be careful not to record other sounds, like their clothes rustling, and if you have two Mics working into the same feed, the subject off camera needs to remember to be quiet.

We are producing a series of videos talking about Sound. Some of them will be available on the Nikon D5200 Channel on Youtube, and some will be exclusively produced for our manual. Cheryl is really looking forward to explaining some of the complexities of sound recording and show us how to get the best sound in different situations. Also we are grateful to Rubadub Audio in Glasgow, who specialise in sound recording equipment and are lending us some gear and further expertise. All the products mentioned in this article and in others are available to our UK readers here. For our US readers, check out these links.

See more videos about the Nikon D5200 DSLR here

Using a Reversal Ring on your Nikon D5200


Using a reverse ring with your D5200

 This is a  great way into to Macro photography

If you have ever wanted to dip your toe into macro photography, but were put off at the thought of having to buy an expensive lens, the reverse ring – or reversal ring – is for you. It is a simple, but very clever, bit of kit that lets you turn a standard lens into a makeshift macro lens. Basically, you attach the ring to the front of your lens and then turn the lens around and attach it to the camera via the ring. This reverses the optics and can make a macro lens out of any standard prime or zoom lens.

A key shot with a nikon d5200The great thing about the reverse ring is that it takes you back to very basic photography, because the reverse ring sits between your lens and your camera, there is no physical contact. That means that you lose all automation – no AutoFocus, no AutoAperture etc – you have to work it all out for yourself.

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Because the lens is reversed, the best focus setting to use – which allows you to get up close to your subject – is infinity. Likewise, if you are on a zoom lens, the best focal length to use is the widest. The closer you get to the subject the bigger it will appear in the frame. You will need to focus by moving the camera (or the subject). Also, you will have to manually set the aperture settings and shutter speed. This is a wonderful return to the trial and error photography that many of us will remember from your early photographic experiences. Of course, you still have the advantage of being able to immediately see the results in the viewing screen, rather than having the process, so you can make changes to lighting etc. straight away. I would always recommend using a tripod, as this removes one of the many variables you will be dealing with.

a reverse ring for a nikon d5200You can pick up a reverse (reversal) ring for a few dollars and they are a great way to try out macro. What’s more, going back to the very basics of photography for an afternoon is tremendous fun.

For more information about using a reverse ring with the Nikon D5200, click here

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The D5200 is getting cheaper


Nikon D5200 prices drop

The best entry-level DSLR is getting more competitive

buy a Nikon D5200 front with screenThe Nikon D5200 only fully launched in January and already the prices in the UK are dropping, making this highly rated DSLR even more competitive. Nikon have really taken the entry-level category apart with their successive launches of the D3200, D5200 and, more recently, the D7100. Canon, their main rival have responded by launching the Rebel T5i (If you can work out the difference between the T4i and the T5i please let me, and the rest of the world, know).

When launched, the D5200 was selling at  priced at £650/$800 for the body and £720/$900 for the body and lens kit. In just a couple of months, the prices have dropped down to around £550 for a body in the UK which suggests that the prices in the USA will soon follow.

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However, I don’t think that they are going down because the camera isn’t selling well. After all, this DSLR has had some superb reviews, especially from the likes of DxOMark, who have rated it higher than the newer D7100 and only a few points short of the Nikon fully professional cameras. I think that the manufacturers are aggressively targeting the entry-level market because they see they enormous potential there. The technology available now to the amateur/enthusiast is so good that I think Nikon see this selection of DSLR cameras as the corner stone of future expansion. The file 24MP sensors produce such astonishing results, both for stills and for video, that it is doubtful that customers will be looking for anything better for a while. With Canon only offering 18MP in their T5i/T4i, Nikon believe that this advantage will work in their favor for a couple of years. This gives them the ideal opportunity to attract point-and-shooters who want to move up and also the disillusioned Canon user.

Nikon D1 digital cameraProfessional photographers have seen this sort of seismic shift before. When Nikon launched the F series of SLRs, they were the best cameras around as far as the Pros were concerned. Their dominance lasted until Canon brought out the revolutionary EOS system cameras in 1987. Professionals migrated en masse to Canon and your couldn’t give Nikon gear away. Finally Nikon caught up and released the D1 in 1999 and, again the Pro’s changed allegiance. But it took 12 years of hard work to make them think seriously about buying Nikon cameras again. I think Nikon are hoping for a similar shift in the enthusiast market. If they can attract the enthusiast with great quality and technology, they have a great chance of keeping them locked into their lenses and accessories (and why not? Their lenses are superb). That is the main reason why the Nikon D5200 prices are dropping….

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Should you buy a Nikon D5200


Should you buy a Nikon D5200?

Should you buy a Nikon D5200? Nikon D5200 digital camera with standard lens

Buying a new camera is a big decision, not least because it is quite a big ticket item. If you buy a Nikon D5200, you will also be tied into other Nikon products, like lenses and Flashguns. Nikon produce great quality kit, although it can be expensive. But I think buying this DSLR is worth serious consideration. Launched in the States in January, every photo enthusiast in America had already seen the D5200 and examined its features ( it was launched in Europe and Asia at the end of 2012). This could explain why there was not a huge buzz that accompanied the launch of other cameras like the Compact System Camera updates, the J3 and the S1, or even the sibling Nikon D3200 last year. However, the D5200 is a superb camera that can produce high quality stills and astonishing HD video. It was recently rated higher than the Nikon D3200 by DxOMark and was only a few points behind Nikon’s Pro cameras.

Nikon have furnished their DSLRs with different sensors from different manufacturers. The D5200 has a brand new 24MP sensor, supplied by Toshiba. As a result, nobody knows how well this sensor can perform yet, but it is assumed that it will be even better than the similar Sony sensor in the Nikon D3200. Certainly the D5200 gives quite splendid color saturation and clarity. The sensor produces a 68MB file, which will satisfy almost any requirement, and the Expeed3 processor –  which has already proved itself to be very quick and efficient in the D3200 – it quite at home in the D5200. It has also inherited a couple of excellent features from the D7000 – the 39-point Auto-focus system – up from the 11-point Auto-focus system in the D5100. This gives you much greater accuracy when focussing and is especially useful for shooting landscapes. The D5200 also has the D7000′s metering system, which gives makes the exposure settings far more accurate and takes it into the realm of professional cameras (in fact DxOMark place the D5200 only a few points behind the professional Nikons the D3x and the D4). It has also upgraded the internal Mic from mono to stereo which produces very good sound for videos. There is a side port which allows you to attach either a GPS receiver, or a WiFi connector, so that you can receive and transmit with your computer. It can also be used as a remote control for the camera, even operating the Live-view option. Nikon have worked to address some of the criticism directed at the D5100. For example, there are now two customizable buttons on the camera that give you the chance to to change certain parameters instantly, rather than find the settings in the menus.

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Of course, if you are considering whether to buy a Nikon D5200, you will need to have a look at the alternatives. The main rival to the D5200 is the Canon T4i. Out for over a year, the 18MP files aren’t as impressive as they once were, but it is a superb camera and, like the D5200 is designed for both stills and video. Like the D5200, the T4i also has a an articulated viewing screen which canon have made a touch screen. It is fair to say that opinion is divided on the value of the touch screen option, but Canon loyalists insist that it is an extremely useful feature and much quicker for navigating the menus.

You might also like to look at rivals closer to home. The Nikon D3200 and D7000 are both in the same entry-level category as the D5200. The D3200 was launched last year and also has a 24MP sensor. This file size blew the opposition away at the time and that, combined with the great picture quality and the very competitive pricing, has led it to dominate its class. However, it has a poorer build quality and no articulated back screen which is becoming a requirement for those who want to seriously shoot video. The D7000 is probably going to be replaced this year and that is reflected in current prices. Only offering a 16MP file size, it seems to be a poor relation in that area. However, there are many photographers who are not dazzled by the file size debate and see other qualities in the D7000, like the internal motor (for older lenses), the tough magnesium alloy body, twin memory card slots and 6FPS burst speed. Not flash or up to date, the D7000 still holds a place in the hearts of the Nikon stalwarts for its reliability and ruggedness.

Other things to think about if you are wondering if you should buy this digital camera are the accessories. The Nikon lenses are second to none and there is a healthy second hand market for them. If you do buy a Nikon D5200, get the 18-55mm kit lens or, if you can afford it, the 18-105mm lens. They will give you some great flexibility for shooting video and stills. Make sure you buy a decent memory card and, if possible, a tripod – as you may be enticed by some of the scene options that require a slower shutter speed. If you are still unsure, I would advise that you to find a good camera shop and ask to pick one up and see how it feels in hand. I have seen many new cameras over the years and I don’t think that the D5200 is revolutionary or the next technological leap forward. It is however an excellent performer across stills and video, in different lighting conditions and quick enough for action photography. So, should you buy a Nikon D5200? Well, I have.

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How do the Nikon D5200 and Canon Rebel T4i compare?


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How does the Nikon D5200 compare with the Canon T4i?

With Nikon and Canon both fighting for the entry-level market, they have both launched video friendly DSLRs to tempt enthusiast and professional photographers

Despite the two cameras coming from different manufacturers, they have a lot in common. They are both useful upgrades to current cameras, and are designed to consolidate their markets by extending into movie making, which both Nikon and Canon recognize as areas for potential growth.

The Nikon D5200 DSLR is priced at £650/$800 for the body and £720/$900 for the body and lens kit.

The Canon T4i (650D) DSLR is priced at £530/$800 for the body and £580/$850 for the body and lens kit

 It is clear that Nikon and Canon are treating the entry-level market as a major battleground, particularly in the USA.

Nikon D5200 DSLR digital camera cropCanon rebel T4i DSLR digital camera crop


The specs for the cameras are similar in many ways, but there are some subtle variations that are worth noting.

Nikon D5200 DSLR versus Canon Rebel T4i DSLR

Canon Rebel T4i

The build quality of the Canon Rebel T4i doesn’t feel as robust as its rival. The scroll-wheel is loud and can be stiff to turn and the rear buttons don’t feel as sturdy. It is a bit bigger than the d5200 though, and so a little easier to hold and the layout at the back is less intuitive. For example, the same button that starts recording video in movie mode also enables live view in a still shooting mode. Some of the buttons are just in the wrong place – the movie mode switch is easy to get to, but it does make it possible to turn off the camera by accident when using it. The buttons are also very close together, making those of us with fat fingers feel even more clumsy. However, it does have a dedicated ISO button, and quick access to white balance, drive mode, and AF settings (the D5200 doesn’t have any of these). There is an IR sensor on the front of the camera, but no Fn button.

Both cameras have an articulating LCD screen. The Canon T4i has a slightly higher resolution than that of the D5200, but there is little noticeable difference. The Canon’s LCD has 1040 thousand dots, while the other cameras have 921 thousand. One of the Canon’s selling points is that the LCD is a touchscreen. This does actually make it easier to configure settings and, much more importantly, it lets you select a focus point through live view. You can also take your picture by tapping on the location where you want the camera to focus. These are very innovative and useful features, taken from the Compact System Camera (CSC) ranges that are out now. However, these functions are really only designed for warm weather use – with gloves or numb hands, it is better to stick to the more conventional buttons.

The Canon’s phase detect AutoFocus system is extremely fast. Although its 9 AF points pale against the 39-points of the Nikon, it is both fast and accurate for general-purpose shooting. The Canon T4i doesn’t have a dedicated AF assist light, but it can use its built-in flash for this. The T4i supports full-time autofocus in video mode, which matches the D5200 but, unless you are using STM lenses, the focussing motor is too noisy for video, so you really need to use the external Mic. The Rebel T4i is an excellent camera of the three for shooting video. The articulated screen, full-time AutoFocus, and external Mic make it ideal for your everyday video needs.

The Nikon D5200

The Nikon D5200 is a very compact camera and smaller than it’s predecessor, the D5100. This could cause problems with those of us with big ( average!) hands. It doesn’t always feel like a proper DSLR, especially when carrying a larger lens. Although it doesn’t match the build quality of the magnesium alloy D700, the toughened plastic body feels solid and sturdy. The layout at the back is intuitive and easy to navigate with an extensive array of buttons to make access to the various functions pretty straightforward. Live view is easily accessible and video recording can be initiated with a press of a single button. It has just one control wheel which is snappy and responsive. There is an IR port on the front of the camera and also a dedicated AF assist light, which the Canon doesn’t have. On the right side there is a customizable Fn button which can be used to control image quality, ISO, active-D lighting, or white balance (there are no dedicated single buttons for these options). The pop-up flash automatic in green mode, meaning that the flash will pop up on its own if the camera thinks it is needed.

The LCD screen is inherited from the D5100, where it was hugely popular. It is very useful for shooting at different angles and is particularly useful when shooting video. The help menus are particularly good and make the Nikon D5200 particularly novice friendly. The display rotates with the camera, meaning that text on the status screen won’t appear sideways when you’re shooting portraits. The playback mode is quick and efficient you won’t need to wait for images to load. And there is a comprehensive info screen which lets you control just about every shooting parameter that the camera has to offer. However the four way selector is not as easy to use as the one on the Canon. The Nikon doesn’t have as many external buttons as the Canon T4i, giving it clean lines and making it less likely to change settings by mistake. However, the reverse is that on the Nikon D5200 some settings are harder to get to in the menu. The new(ish) Expeed 3 processor makes the Nikon fast and decisive in phase detect AutoFocus. And extremely fast in Live View. The D5200′s articulating screen comes in handy for shooting video, and nikon have increased the number of frame rate options, introducing 60i and 50i. Like the Canon, it will accept an external microphone and has full-time video AutoFocus.

At low very ISO, the Canon matches the Nikon, but at maximum (non-expanded) ISO, the Nikon is better. Overall, the Nikon delivers better images than the Canon. Remember, the Canon also has a physically smaller sensor than the D5200> It may not seem like much, but 1.6x rather than 1.5x combined with the increased resolution puts the D5200 clearly ahead. For more information on the sensors, take a look at the sensor scores published by DxO labs.

In short, the Canon Rebel T4i has great AutoFocus, a great articulated touchscreen and is a really superb video camera. The Nikon D5200 has excellent, fast AutoFocus, a good articulated screen, a great buffer/processor and very useful in-camera guides.